Law for the Psychotherapist.
For practicing psychotherapists this book may be seen as a survival guide to the legal system. It provides general guidance on the major legal issues affecting psychotherapists, specific recommendations on such topics as giving testimony or preparing reports for the court, and advice on the legal implications of therapy with certain clinical populations. Historical information and details of legal theory are discussed to the degree necessary to enable therapists to understand the current state of affairs; however, the focus is primarily on the effects of evolving legal theory, laws, and court rulings on psychotherapeutic practice. The first section on The Psychotherapist in the Office and in Court begins with discussion of a topic vitally important to all therapists--malpractice and professional liability. Then a number of areas where a therapist may be asked to evaluate a person's past, current, or future state of mind for the court are considered: criminal responsibility, legal capacity to stand trial or to make a will, involuntary civil commitment, and dangerousness. Turning to topics that often involve direct interaction with the court, the section continues with chapters on family law, including child custody evaluations and child abuse, personal injury cases, and testifying as a witness in court. Throughout this section the authors emphasize the delicate balancing act required when the legal system demands firm yes-no answers and the psychotherapist sees multiple levels of complexity. The second section on Specific Disorders and the Psychotherapist takes a different perspective, addressing broad clinical concerns and then considering the diverse legal issues that may come into play. Here psychiatric diagnoses are organized around issues of reality contact, issues of impulse control, issues of biological disruption, and child issues.